Family cluster part of Riyadh flurry of MERS cases

Saudi Arabia reported another MERS-CoV infection today from its current Riyadh hot spot and indicated that some of the cases there involve a family cluster.

Also today, the World Health Organization (WHO) shared details on two recent Saudi MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) cases, one of them involving a man who may have been exposed in a hospital.

Few details were available, other than the Riyadh location, about Saudi Arabia's newest case, which was reflected in a graphic on the Saudi Ministry of Health (MOH) MERS public awareness campaign page, called "We Can Stop This."

The new case lifts Saudi Arabia's total from the disease to 1,065 cases, including 471 deaths. In today's graphic the MOH said one patient in Riyadh has recovered from MERS-CoV, boosting that total to 583. Ten people are still being treated.

Reported family cluster

Hospital and community-linked cases have been suspected in a recent spate of MERS illnesses in the Riyadh area, and the Saudi media recently reported complaints from a family against the ministry that it mishandled its probe of infections of a handful of family members.  One of the foreign language media reports and a translation of a health ministry response to the family's charges were covered today by Avian Flu Diary, an infectious disease news blog.

The family said six of its members were infected with MERS-CoV because of a lack of follow-up after the illness was detected in the first patient, the father of the family, who is apparently still hospitalized and may have had recent contact with camels.  The mother of the family reportedly died from her infection, two sons are hospitalized, and another family member is in home isolation, according to the story.

Avian Flu Diary's translation of the MOH statement noted the infections in five family members, one of whom is apparently asymptomatic and is isolated at home. The statement said family clusters have been reported before elsewhere in Saudi Arabia, and it encouraged citizens to take precautions around camels and to follow basic hygiene steps.

Global health officials have said the MERS virus does not spread easily in community settings, but it can transmit from person-to-person in some situations, such as when people have prolonged close contact.

WHO on 2 cases

Meanwhile, today's WHO statement covers two cases reported by the country on Jul 28 and Jul 29.

One involves a 67-year-old man in Riyadh who got sick on Jun 11 and was hospitalized on Jun 14. On Jul 26 while still hospitalized, he came down with pneumonia, and tests confirmed MERS-CoV 2 days later.

The man is in critical condition, and authorities are investigating possible links to lab-confirmed case-patients admitted to the same hospital.

The second patient in the WHO report is a 44-year-old woman from Al-Kharj who got sick on Jul 16 and was hospitalized on Jul 26. She is hospitalized in stable condition, and a probe into the source of her exposure is still under way.

See also:

Saudi MOH MERS awareness page

Aug 6 Avian Flu Diary post

Aug 6 WHO statement

Newsletter Sign-up

Get CIDRAP news and other free newsletters.

Sign up now»


Unrestricted financial support provided by

Bentson Foundation 3MAccelerate DiagnosticsGilead 
Grant support for ASP provided by

  Become an underwriter»